93 Points - The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker
The flagship Pinots at Fort Ross are clearly worth the trade-up. Pale to medium ruby-purple colored, the 2014 Pinot Noir Top of Land offers glimpses of fragrant earth and underbrush over a core of red currants red cherries, plus a waft of balsamic. Medium-bodied and solidly framed with grainy and refreshing acidity, this is a structured, more earthy/mineral style, which doesn’t scrimp on the length. Drink 2017 - 2023.
Deep garnet in color, the Top of Land Pinot Noir has remarkable concentration and vibrancy. This wine is sourced from some of the most low-yielding and richest Pinot Noir blocks in the vineyard. A beautiful bouquet of wild strawberry, boysenberry, lavender and rose petals leap from the glass. On the palate, Top of Land is broad and expansive with layers of firm tannins that carry out into a complex finish.
2014 was the third year of bountiful harvests that again produced stellar wine of vibrancy and concentration. Protected from the drought by the late winter rains that quickly filled our pond, we could enjoy one of the few luxuries of being off the grid. As we train our grapes to grow on cordons, with evenly positioned buds that produce evenly placed shoots, we drop clusters that are not perfectly positioned. We worked through the vineyard three times to ensure that the bunches had optimal air circulation and sun exposure. The depth of flavor in the wines from this vintage reflect our meticulous handwork. August 17 marked the beginning of the harvest with picking a select block of Pinot Noir Dijon 777 for our Sparkling Wine. The remaining Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage ripened quickly and evenly and was harvested through September.
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in 2 gallon trays. After hand sorting, the fruit was cold soaked for several days and fermented in a combination of 5 and 10 ton tanks. The caps were punched down 1 or 2 times per day, depending on the stage of the fermentation. The wines were then barreled in a combination of 35% new and 65% neutral French oak. Throughout the 11 months of barrel aging, the clones and different vineyard blocks were kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components as blending elements.